Tag Archives: bike tour

Basel Courtyard

Aloha from Geneva!

Taken during my one-hour layover in Basel.

Dear Friends,

Hope you’re all well and happy.

I managed to upload some pictures I took during my recent 3-week stay in Berlin. You can check them out here: http://tvjuice.com/berlin3/.

Yesterday evening I arrived in Geneva where I’m staying with the most darling 84-year man who I know through Tony’s family. He’s on sabbatical at CERN for a year and got a special pass for me to go there during my stay. It’s sunny and cold here, very beautiful in fact.

Best wishes for a lovely February. Happy Valentine’s day in advance. : )

With warm aloha,

-S j

Hoi An . . . in the top three

Hi Everyone,

This lovely town on the coast of Vietnam (and about a 45-minute drive south of Da Nang) is a shopper’s paradise. Yes, a shopper’s paradise. “Isn’t practically all of SE Asia a shopper’s paradise?” you ask.

Well, yes it is! For most travelers. Though there is so much more to do than just shop.

But this particular town is known for its vast collection of tailors. Yes, tailors. People from all over the world were having custom clothing made: suits, dresses, skirts, shoes, etc. (Yes, even shoes!)

But for moi, I just didn’t feel like having anything custom-made. I’m nearly at the end of my 5-month journey in SE Asia, and I have plenty of souvenirs already. And I have plenty of clothing.

Also, I think that’s an activity that would be more fun to do with a friend (yes, Mom, I agree with you on this one : ).

So what did I do?

I walked around the quaint town in the evening. (It became much more interesting when the sun began to set.)

It was pouring and pouring on my first full-day there; so I hung out in my comfy room and got caught up on things. AND I swam in that fabulous pool. Fortunately, it wasn’t thundering and lightning (like it is now in Bangkok where I’m currently sitting and typing).

When I got hungry, I walked a short distance and found a cozy restaurant with a nice mix of decor (honestly, it felt more European than Asian) where I broke my no-chicken eating and had Pho with da kine (noodle soup). It was the perfect dish for a cool, wet day.

And the second day? The sun was shinning, so I rented a bike and found the beach (and even got a little sun burned on my shoulders : ).

For enjoying Hoi An as much as I did, I took very few pictures (another sign that this leg of my journey is winding down).

So, without further ado . . .

Enjoy!

These are some of the most unusual boats I’ve ever seen! They reminded me of big rice cups. And yes, I helped carry the second one up the beach.
What’s that for ???
Right in town was a rice paddy.
A sample of the clothing that one can have made in Hoi An.

And oh, I forgot to mention, I just happened to be in Hoi An on the one day of the month when they hang lanterns everywhere (and coincidentally, the last night of my solo journey before joining my friend in Bangkok) in honor of the full moon which appears the following night. I left my room a little before sunset to walk around town. Along the way, I saw vendor after vendor setting up a personal altar in front of their shop. Soon, women were selling small lanterns to the tourists, as well as cooking potato, banana, coconut things. (I  tried part of one; it was okay, a bit bland.)

When the activity seemed to be at its peak, I parked myself at a table for one, ordered fried noodles and veggies and a glass of the local merlotish red wine, and enjoyed the show! “Perfect!” I thought as I sat and sipped . . . “Perfect. Thank you Hoi An. Thank you . . .”

-sj

Luang Prabang, my fav city in SE Asia thus far . . .

Hi Everyone,

Yes, so far Luang Prabang has been my favorite town/city in SE Asia. It’s quiet; it’s cleaner; it’s interesting . . .

But I’m writing this from Hue, Vietnam and on my way next to Hoi An (that people also say they like), so I’ll keep you posted.

Here are the “selects” from my many, many photographs of the area.

Enjoy!

My end room #5, the two windows facing the street made it shine! (literally ; )

This is from Wat Xieng Thong.
This too.

The mosaic of the tree-of-life is one of its main features.
While walking up the hill to Phu Si temple.
These guys were playing on the gun turret.
Sunset over the Mekong River from the summit of the highest hill (and where That Chomsi temple is located).
Can you get a hit of the fun vibe of this town?
Rented a bike and went out for a spin.
Yes, I received a full dose of happiness while on this boat tour up the Mekong River.
Met this nice young 22-year old Laotian gal; she was showing her parents around who were visiting from the south.
You can get rice based alcohol with all kinds of critters inside!
I bought a few of her cloths.
There were many, many people doing the same type of work in this little village north of Luang Prabang.
Moi and my new friend. : )
The boat trip was to this Pak Ou Caves.
One of my favorite meals while in Luang Prabang–fried noodles with veggies; that’s a mango smoothie in back.
I too gave them sticky rice and little cakes.
My “neighborhood” wat where I heard the monks hitting the drums one day.
Did you celebrate this holiday too?
Rented a bike again and headed out of town.
This is the wat with the golden dome that one sees from the top of the hill in the town center (on the peninsula in the classic “old” part of town).
And this is what it looks like inside; I climbed up to the top level!
There were many levels.
Real life in Luang Prabang.
I like how they have the place for someone to sit on the bike; this was one of my new friend’s favorite wat, Sene, I believe is the name.
This caught my eye while riding down the road.
The one-way road along the Mekong River side of the peninsula.
Setting up for the nightly market . . . there’s lots of stuff in them there bags!
This is next to the Royal Palace Museum, known to the locals as Haw Kham (Golden Hall).
Dragons are one of the four sacred animals. The others? The phoenix, the unicorn, and the turtle. Some of the very important things I learned during my travels.
Lots of restaurants along the river for dining, drinking, and thinking–not necessarily in that order!
There are bizarre insects hidden underneath that goat cheese, salmon, and cavier! Met the wife of the chef of Blue Lagoon restaurant (a very, very nice restaurant in Luang Prabang); he offered to prepare insects for me in a way that “Europeans” can eat. I did; it was good; there was a undefinable “musty” flavor. No, I did NOT ask what the critters were! Knew I most probably wouldn’t be able to eat it then. Why did I eat them? How often is a great chef going to make such an offer to me?
There’s a library on the right; I had a nice evening there reading. Before, I’d gone to the wat across the street to sit and meditate as the monks chanted. I later learned that that was exactly when dear Julie Anne Mercer Lee left this planet.
I bought those paintings (the small ones : ). Recognize the one on the left, Jan? Have you received the box yet? The other two were drawn by that man’s niece (she’s about 5 or 6 years old).
For when you visit Luang Prabang . . .
And then it was time to leave for the airport . . .
Just in case you were tempted.
With my few remaining Laotian Kip and 2 US dollars, I bought my little guardian bat angel; it’s been keeping an eye on my computer for me.
Aloha Luang Prabang!

Aloha mon amis,

-sj

Lao Lao Garden has the fastest internet connection in Luang Prabang.

Or so I was told by a nice couple who’d been staying at the same hotel as me (they left today for southern Laos). And as far as I can tell, they were right! Looks like I’m going to be able to post some photos from a few afternoon bike trips while at FLO (Future Light Orphanage which is outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia).
I just had a dish of fried noodles with vegetables (and curry added per my request) and a mango smoothie with yogurt. It was one of my favorite meals I’ve had in Luang Prabang thus far.
Also, the place seems really *hip. Here are some things written in their menu:
“Wherever You Go, There You Are!” (I’m using their spelling and capitalization btw.)
“Everything Changes, Nothing Is Real. We Are All Capable Of Change. Not Only Are We Capable Of Change – Change is Inevitable.”
“Neither Be Happy When Things Go Our Way, Nor Unhappy When They Do Not.”
“The Rich Never Go To Jail. The Poor Never Go To Hospital.” Lao Proverb
“Whatever Lessens Suffering In Yourself And Others, This Is Right. We Cannot Give Up On Any Person. Never Abandon Anyone.”
“Forgiveness Is Superior To Justice. Revenge And Justice Are Not The Same.”
“We Tend To Seek Happiness, When Happiness Is Actually A Choice.”
“The Simpler The Life, The Happier The Life.”
And lastly,
Q. WHERE ARE THE MONKS GOING?
A. The same places that anyone would go: school, the temple, to visit family and friends. They want to know why you take so many pictures of them and what you are looking for if you already have everything you need?
Enjoy the pictures that I took while biking (around the area where FLO is located).
Laundry almost always looks pretty; if you wear bright clothes, that is!
Twice I just happened to get a red bicycle.
This wat is the furthest away from FLO; it only took about 15-minutes to bike to it.
Just liked the way that looked.
Lots going on along this dirt thoroughfare.
Just part of a typical routine in Cambodia (in the countryside, in the city too perhaps?).
About the same, but the cow moved. See?
There were several cows around.
This guy was saying hey . . . or something like that.
I think he’s protecting the wat (or pagoda is what they really say).
This little guy wanted his picture taken; I said, “Kay.”
I’ve been told that a famous movie star with many, many children “got” her first one here; it’s just down the road from FLO.
Like I said, lots of activity happening on this dirt road. 
I asked permission before I took their photo; now I realize that they were getting ready for the festival which began around the 13th of September.
Now this guy is a major stud in the area. How do I know? Well, his size for one, his BODY size. He’s a good head or two taller than other cattle. And for second, by ALL the many people who gathered one day around him examining him . . . I didn’t ask any questions.
One afternoon I rode up to this wat and sat down on a bench under the tree. Before you could say, “Jack Squat,” I was surrounded by lots and lots of little kids. These two just cried out to be photographed (well not vocally, but with their eyes they cried out  : ~ ).

And now . . . back to thumbing through the Lao Lao Garden menu.

Love and light to you all,

-sj

Last week Sunday’s bike ride with a few FLO kids and volunteers . . .

My wheels for the afternoon.

The neighboring village.

Checking us out.

Along for the ride!

Off we went!

We visited Rob’s foster son’s family home.

Grandson and Grandmother.

Sean, yucking it up! (He’s Rob’s family member and an awesome young man recently graduated from UCSB.)

The kids love Rob!

More yucking it up!

We passed some rice planters.

Who invited the guys to come out and help out!

And they did!

It’s hard work . . . though so very beautiful.

This is how you do it . . .

The “neighborhood” Wat.

In case you were wondering what monks do when they hang out in their wat.

Rice, wonderful rice. How thankful to eat you.

Heading back to FLO.

Another wat.

Frog legs on the barbie.

A special treat for the kids who’d come along for the ride.

There’s no time like the present . . .

Here are shots I took on Friday during a several hour bike tour around Bangkok (and across the river). Our guide was absolutely adorable! She bubbled over with laughter, stories, and a general joie de vivre.

You can read all about this tour company here: www.realasia.net; we took the afternoon tour.

See you in a few weeks!